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“The Boyfriend Can Stay but the Dog Has to Go” – The Cats

Cat PrayingHi John:

Not sure if you are able to help but my boyfriend is moving into my home with his 1 year old Great Dane and black Labrador Retriever mix.  I have three cats that are terrified and stay in the basement when he visits with the dog.  Have you ever been able to help anyone with this problem.  I really want to keep the dog (who is very hyper around the cats) but don’t want the cats to have to resort to the basement. Would appreciate your input.

Thank You Diane

Dear Diane,

The biggest problem cats often have with dogs is not how big they are but how fast they come/run at them. At least that’s the biggest problem outside of their objection to a dog’s right to exist as most subscribe to the philosophy that if “It can’t purr, it doesn’t deserve fur.”

Some cats aren’t going to overlook a dog’s shortcomings no matter how well behaved the dog is. They just didn’t grow up around dogs and no matter how sweet a dog’s nature they imagine any nose to nose meeting will end with their tail sticking out of the dog’s mouth. Only time will tell how well your cats will adapt but we can increase the chances by de-goofballing your hyper Great Dane mix.

First thing is to get a leash on him in the house so he can’t get to a cat before you can get to him. If you can prove that to the cats one or more may become brave enough to test the waters albeit with one eye on the basement door. The second is to stick him a crate when you can’t stay on top of him. At this point, many cats can’t resist the opportunity to then make themselves known to the dog if only to strut their freedom status spiced up a little with racially derogatory and condescending comments.

Between the leash and the crate, you may get to the point that the dog knows that whatever pleasure he gets out of sending the cats pelting down to the basement isn’t worth contending with your simulated wrath and eventually he’ll embrace a more civilized demeanor.

You might want to set aside some quality time to spend with the three Mouseketeers as well. This sort of thing can be quite stressful and they need their social time with you to not feel lost. Find ways to play with them if they like to play or sit with them or brush them. Whatever it is that makes them feel special. There is a product you can buy that plugs into the wall and emits pheromones that seems to soothe many a cat’s raw nerves. Check in with your veterinarian or drop me a note at and I’ll send you some information. The more you can relieve their stress the greater capacity they’ll have to invest in adapting to the addition of a canine behemoth to the clan. Some cats end up quite liking the house dog if only to serve as a constant reminder to their owner of the advantages of a cat only household.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade

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